Crown and Bridge
A crown ("cap") is a type of dental restoration that fully covers the portion of a tooth or dental implant that lies at and above the gum line. Once placed, it in effect becomes the tooth's new outer surface. (In comparison, a dental filling just fills in or repairs a portion of a tooth.) Crowns are permanently cemented into place. The tooth-crown unit that results functions and is cared for just like a natural tooth. There are several reasons why a dental crown might be made for a tooth. Dentists routinely use them to either repair or strengthen damaged teeth, or to improve tooth appearance (including color, shape and even apparent alignment). The crown process is a two step process, beginning with the crown preparation. At this appointment the dentist will reduce the overall size of the tooth to accommodate the placement of the crown. This is done under local anesthesia and usually takes about an hour and a half. Impressions of your teeth will be sent to laboratory for fabrication of the desired crown and a temporary crown will be placed at this visit. The delivery appointment is much quicker and very minimally invasive, often times without requiring anesthetic.
While some other treatment alternatives do exist, no other kind of dental restoration provides the exact same set of benefits and advantages as a crown.
Crowns can be constructed out of several different materials, each with their own advantages:
- Porcelain (or other type of dental ceramic.)
- Metal (precious, semi-precious or non-precious dental alloy).
- A combination of dental ceramic and metal alloy (porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns)
A dentist might recommend crowning a tooth for a variety of reasons but most tend to fall within one or more of the following categories:
- Restoring or making changes with a tooth's shape.
- Reinforcing a structurally compromised tooth.
- Improving a tooth's appearance.
Rebuilding or changing the Shape of Teeth
Crowns are routinely used as a solution for worn, chipped or broken teeth. Often times an area of decay can become too extensive for a standard filling as well and require a crown. The good news is that by having a crown placed, the original shape of a tooth can be restored. Crowns can also be used to correct teeth that are misshapen due to a developmental anomaly. This treatment not only aides in functioning, but can also improve aesthetics. Crowns are often placed simply to improve the appearance of your smile! We take great time and care to make sure all of our patients are satisfied with the aesthetics of their crowns, and we love making our patients smile even brighter!
Beyond just restoring a tooth's shape, a crown can provide a reinforcing and strengthening effect too. In comparison, fillings (amalgam or dental bonding) typically can't provide a substantial reinforcing effect for a tooth to the same degree. Having a crown placed greatly decreases your chances of having a tooth fracture as compared to a large filling. A crown can also help preserve a tooth that has fracture lines present by strengthening the overall biting surface and taking pressure off of a potentially compromised area.
Improving the Appearance of Teeth
Because a dental crown encases the entire visible portion of a tooth, porcelain crowns (porcelain-fused-to-metal and especially all-ceramic ones) can be used to enhance or idealize the cosmetic appearance of teeth.
In an aesthetic case, this technique can be used to radically improve the appearance of a person's smile. In fact, in decades past it was common to hear of movie stars who had had their teeth "capped." This simply meant that they got their perfect "Hollywood" smile by way of having dental crowns placed. If improving the appearance of your smile is something you are interested in, please give us a call to set up a free consultation!
Advantages of a crown
In some instances, it's conceivable that a dental filling might be placed as an alternative to a crown. But the latter can offer big advantages due to the way that it's constructed.
Crowns are fabricated in a dental laboratory, by a dental technician using copies (impressions) of your teeth.
Dental fillings, in comparison, are built during your dental appointment, within the confines of your mouth.
This difference in how they're made means that a dental laboratory technician gets the opportunity to simulate and examine aspects of your bite and jaw movements from a variety of angles, and then sculpt your dental crown so it has the ideal shape.
With a dental filling, the dentist has far less control over the restoration's final contours because it is often difficult for them to visualize, evaluate, or access to the tooth they're working on.
Bridge treatment is similar to crown treatment, with the exception of involving a missing tooth. In a situation where a tooth is missing, a series of joined crowns, also known as a “bridge”, is fabricated. The preparation of the adjacent teeth is the same as that of a crown, as is the impression process and laboratory fabrication, but the finished product allows a multi-unit prosthetic to replace the missing tooth. Once the bridge is delivered (cemented), you can function normally without the hassle of a missing tooth. Bridges can also be utilized to stabilize loose teeth by linking several teeth together and minimizing the amount of force placed on a single tooth in normal function.